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Living under the Evil Pope

The Hebrew Chronicle of Pope Paul IV by Benjamin Neḥemiah ben Elnathan from Civitanova Marche (16th cent.)

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Martina Mampieri

In Living under the Evil Pope, Martina Mampieri presents the Hebrew Chronicle of Pope Paul IV, written in the second half of the sixteenth century by the Italian Jewish moneylender Benjamin Neḥemiah ben Elnathan (alias Guglielmo di Diodato) from Civitanova Marche. The text remained in manuscript for about four centuries until the Galician scholar Isaiah Sonne (1887-1960) published a Hebrew annotated edition of the chronicle in the 1930s. This remarkable source offers an account of the events of the Papal States during Paul IV’s pontificate (1555-59). Making use of broad archival materials, Martina Mampieri reflects on the nature of this work, its historical background, and contents, providing a revised edition of the Hebrew text as well as the first unabridged English translation and commentary.

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Francois Soyer

In Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories in the Early Modern Iberian World: Narratives of Fear and Hatred, François Soyer offers the first detailed historical analysis of antisemitic conspiracy theories in Spain, Portugal and their overseas colonies between 1450 and 1750. These conspiracy theories accused Jews and conversos, the descendants of medieval Jewish converts to Christianity, of deadly plots and blamed them for a range of social, religious, military and economic problems. Ultimately, many Iberian antisemitic conspiracy theorists aimed to create a ‘moral panic’ about the converso presence in Iberian society, thereby justifying the legitimacy of ethnic discrimination within the Church and society. Moreover, they were also exploited by some churchmen seeking to impose an idealized sense of communal identity upon the lay faithful.

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Edited by Yosef Kaplan

From the sixteenth century on, hundreds of Portuguese New Christians began to flow to Venice and Livorno in Italy, and to Amsterdam and Hamburg in northwest Europe. In those cities and later in London, Bordeaux, and Bayonne as well, Iberian conversos established their own Jewish communities, openly adhering to Judaism. Despite the features these communities shared with other confessional groups in exile, what set them apart was very significant. In contrast to other European confessional communities, whose religious affiliation was uninterrupted, the Western Sephardic Jews came to Judaism after a separation of generations from the religion of their ancestors. In this edited volume, several experts in the field detail the religious and cultural changes that occurred in the Early Modern Western Sephardic communities.

Edited by Mercedes García-Arenal, Gerard A. Wiegers and Ryan Szpiech

This book discusses the “long fifteenth century” in Iberian history, between the 1391 pogroms and the forced conversions of Aragonese Muslims in 1526, a period characterized by persecutions, conversions and social violence, on the one hand, and cultural exchange, on the other. It was a historical moment of unstable religious ideas and identities, before the rigid turn taken by Spanish Catholicism by the middle of the sixteenth century; a period in which the physical and symbolic borders separating the three religions were transformed and redefined but still remained extraordinarily porous. The collection argues that the aggressive tone of many polemical texts has until now blinded historiography to the interconnected nature of social and cultural intimacy, above all in dialogue and cultural transfer in later medieval Iberia.
Contributors are Ana Echevarría, Gad Freudenthal, Mercedes García-Arenal, Maria Laura Giordano, Yonatan Glazer-Eytan, Eleazar Gutwirth, Felipe Pereda, Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto, Katarzyna K. Starczewska, John Tolan, Gerard Wiegers, and Yosi Yisraeli.

Lux in Tenebris

The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism

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Edited by Peter J. Forshaw

Lux in Tenebris is a collection of eighteen original interdisciplinary essays that address aspects of the verbal and visual symbolism in the works of significant figures in the history of Western Esotericism, covering such themes as alchemy, magic, kabbalah, angels, occult philosophy, Platonism, Rosicrucianism, and Theosophy. Part I: Middle Ages & Early Modernity ranges from Gikatilla, Ficino, Camillo, Agrippa, Weigel, Böhme, Yvon, and Swedenborg, to celestial divination in Russia. Part II: Modernity & Postmodernity moves from occultist thinkers Schwaller de Lubicz and Evola to esotericism in literature, art, and cinema, in the works of Colquhoun, Degouve de Nuncques, Bruskin, Doitschinoff, and Pérez-Reverte, with an essay on esoteric theories of colour.

Contributors are: Michael J.B. Allen, Susanna Åkerman, Lina Bolzoni, Aaron Cheak, Robert Collis, Francesca M. Crasta, Per Faxneld, Laura Follesa, Victoria Ferentinou, Joshua Gentzke, Joscelyn Godwin, Hans Thomas Hakl, Theodor Harmsen, Elke Morlok, Noel Putnik, Jonathan Schorsch, György Szönyi, Carsten Wilke, and Thomas Willard.

After Conversion

Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity

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Edited by Mercedes García-Arenal

This book examines the religious and ideological consequences of mass conversion in Iberia, where Jews and Muslims were forcibly converted or expelled at the end of the XVth century and beginning of the XVIth, and in this way it explores the fraught relationship between origins and faith. It treats also of the consequences of coercion on intellectual debates and the production of knowledge, taking into account how integrating new converts from Judaism and Islam stimulated Christian scholars to confront the converts’ sacred texts and created a distinctive peninsular hermeneutics. The book thus assesses the importance of the “Converso problem” in issues such as religious dissidence, dissimulation, and doubt and skepticism while establishing the process by which religious dissidence came to be categorized as heresy and was identified with converts from Judaism and Islam even when Lutheranism was often in the background.